The Never-Ending Battle Among Steelers’ Fans; Offense or Defense?

Steelers' fansEvery fan base has its optimistic groups and pessimistic groups. Every fan base has a group that believes the team should go in one direction and those that believe the team should go in another.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has groups like this but it also has a group that that couldn’t be more divided; those who believe offense is the answer and those who believe defense is the only way back to greatness.

This debate is not for the faint of heart. It gets heated and it gets ugly and neither side is willing to back down.

The offensive argument goes something like this; “It’s an offensive game now that centers around great quarterbacks, pass protection and talented wide receivers. The game has evolved and changed to the point where defenses are essentially unable to do as they once did in terms of aggression and violence.”

The defensive argument goes something like this; “Defense still wins championships. Look at what the Seahawks did to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Steelers must return to playing great defense in order to impose their will on opposing offenses which then sets up the offense for more success.

What you’ll also find in this debate is that those who side with rebuilding the defense almost always believe the running game should be the top priority on offense. This isn’t true in every single case, but I guarantee the majority feel this way.

There’s a large contingent of Steelers’ fans who would love to see Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount carry the ball 45 times per game and win games 17-13 but those days are over.

Regardless of who comes in from this draft, this latest version of the Dick LeBeau 3-4 defense will struggle to even be average. Because of this, the offense will need to carry the team as it did for much of the second half in 2013.

The pro defense side hates to hear this. It pretty much amounts to blasphemy to them. What they fail to see however is that this unit isn’t a year or two away from being a dominant force again. This is going to take time.

What does that mean? It means you need playmakers and that you have stop protecting the LeBeau brand. There are those in the organization that want the running game to return to circa 1975 days in order to keep LeBeau’s defense off the field.

That’s all fine and dandy but how effective will that offense be if the defense is giving up touchdowns every other time down the field?

The defense will not be rebuilt in a day and the offense is closer to carrying this team right now so let it do so.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.

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5 comments on “The Never-Ending Battle Among Steelers’ Fans; Offense or Defense?

  1. Can we all agree this Roster/team won’t be fixed in 1 offseason/draft… Colbert & Tomlin can’t make up for how bad 08-09 drafts were & almost complete lack of Depth/talent/youth on this roster in 1 offseason. So lets not “Reach” for a player & just take “Best Player available” as long as its not a QB

  2. Here’s my take one more time. The Steelers have already used too many picks on both lines and pretty much failed, then they have looked the other way when it came to drafting CB and WR’S. We did draft Bell in the second round but he’s still unproven despite what many believe [880 yards on 3.5 ypc is below average even for a rookie] All of our drafts recently have been fruitless. So what do you think these people will do next??? I for one hope it isn’t go out and screw this thing up again. I really don’t have a bunch of confidence in these guys

    • While I too, lack overwhelming confidence in the 2-men, that are going to be making our upcoming draft choices again, they have gotten lucky a few-times? Timmons, Pouncey, DeCastro, Brown & I’ll even throw in Gilbert, if he has another good season this year. I do agree, they’ve also had more than a few duds too!
      I don’t want 45-50 times a games rushing, I just want to have a balance. The threat of it, can keep your QB healthier & just basically gives you more options, in the course of the contest. I do see the offense, as the more stable side of the ball. We have to get a lot younger & it will take a few years.
      We’ve got 9-picks, in a few weeks & we need to hit on almost all of them. I’d say DB’s & WR’s yes, but also DE & DT as well, not to mention a LB, if there is one of value, in the later rounds. Out of the 9-picks, I think it’s realistic to say, that at least 6-picks should be on the defensive side of the ball.
      I think the time is getting short for these 2-guys (Colbert & Tomlin)? I don’t see ownership accepting too many more 8-8 seasons, despite the legendary Rooney patience.

  3. I can’t really agree with either of you, Bob or Tim.

    Bob, I don’t think using picks to acquire talented linemen is a waste any more than using them on CBs and WRs. Although the game has changed, it is still won in the line, and if you don’t believe this and think that only the ‘skill’ positions matter, look no further than a team in the NFC that was a preseason favorite for the SB last year – Atlanta. Their OL and DL were TERRIBLE last year, but they still had Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, etc. etc. plenty of firepower in their offense, except…. the OL couldn’t keep Ryan upright long enough to use that skill position talent. On the other side of the ball, they were well below the line on, well, the line – and couldn’t pressure the other team’s QB. Plus I would be willing to bet that you are less than 40 years old and don’t remember the true despair that Steelers fans went through for DECADES. We are so spoiled in the last 30 – 40 years that we think the team is a failure if EVERY pick isn’t an All-Pro in EVERY draft, and EVERY game isn’t won. Ask the rest of the league if they would like to sample some of our ‘fruitless’ experience. I can guarantee you that like 30 other teams would trade in a heartbeat and Tomlin’s 2 SBs is still better than all but a handful of NFL teams in their existence! Check out Bleacher Reports article today on Tomlin’s #1 picks since 2008 – true, a couple duds, but also a lot more quality players.

    Tim, I agree with you that the days of handing the ball to a featured back 35 times a game are over – the NFL virtually legislated that game (that the Steelers played so physically and so well!) out of existence. Also agree on the balance comment for an offense.
    However, beyond that you seem to have fallen into the trap that younger is better. Although we were too ‘old’ last year, and probably held on a year longer than we should have for some (Clark comes to mind), some of our older players had very solid/borderline great years – Troy and to a lesser extent Keisel come to mind. And our terrible D was still ranked 12th, so 20 other teams would have traded with us. Plus, we have already significantly lowered the average age of, in particular, our defense with the signing of Mitchell, the insertion of Heyward and Allen and Williams, the now 2nd year ILB into our D lineup. At this point, Troy and Ike are the only two players starting on D that are 30+ and that’s assuming Ike will start. If Keisel is brought back he is old but he will probably be rotated in, I am sure, with the new DE we draft. We would have been younger LAST year had DLB started Heyward from the get-go. So, we are now younger but the better part remains to be seen yet.

    Perhaps I am overreacting to your comments since I am generally a positive outlook person, but for sure either you OR I are overreacting!!!!

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